Most people have heard the term root canal and may even be intimidated by it without really knowing what it is, why treatment is required, and so forth. Much of the fear is unfounded and based on outdated notions. Dental medicine has come a long way, especially in recent decades. Most root canal treatments are completely painless, and these procedures let dentists save millions of teeth each year.
The root canal is the space within a tooth that houses nerves and blood vessels. Root canal treatment is a procedure used to save a tooth when those nerves and blood vessels have become infected. Root canal treatments are also known as endodontic treatments, root canal therapies, and endodontic therapies. Casually, it is not uncommon to refer to the procedure itself as a root canal.
When Is Root Canal Treatment Necessary?
Your teeth have space within them. Beneath the enamel and the dentin is a natural cavity that contains the pulp. The pulp contains those nerves and blood vessels mentioned earlier as well as connective tissues. The pulp is vital to the growth of its tooth. After the tooth is fully grown, the pulp is no longer necessary since the tooth can receive nourishment from the gum tissue surrounding it.
If you have a cavity or experience dental damage, the pulp can become inflamed or infected. Left untreated, this can result in significant pain as well as an abscess, which can be quite serious. The pulp will eventually die and undermine the tooth. Therapy is necessary to avoid loss of the tooth.
What Are the Indications Root Canal Therapy Is Needed?
- Deep tooth decay
- Tooth discoloration
- Sensitivity to heat or cold
- Swollen and tender gums
- Discoloration of the gums
- Pain while chewing or biting
- Cracks, chips, and other dental damage
- Swelling, tenderness, or drainage near the tooth
What Steps Should You Take If These Warning Signs Exist?
Avoid self-diagnosis. The listed symptoms can be caused by an infected pulp, but they can be caused by other oral health issues as well. Call your dentist. Tell him or her your symptoms. Schedule an appointment based on your dentist’s recommendations. In some cases, your dentist may instruct you to come in right away. You should see your regular dentist. If root canal treatment is needed, your dentist will then refer you to an endodontist, a dentist specially trained in such procedures.
How Does Root Canal Therapy Save a Tooth?
Your fully grown tooth can be healthy even without its pulp, and therein lies the key. Your endodontist will give you anesthesia to numb the area. The dentist will then remove the infected pulp, clean the tooth cavity, shape the space as needed, fill the area, and seal the tooth. The tooth will need time to heal and the filling time to set. After that period, you will return to your dentist to have a crown or other dental restoration installed. You will now have full function of your tooth, and with proper dental care, that tooth—even without its pulp—can last you a lifetime.
Do You Feel Pain During a Root Canal Procedure?
Root canal therapies involve the use of anesthesia, and some patients undergo sedation therapy, so pain during the procedure is not common. Most patients surveyed consider the procedure to be comfortable. You may experience some soreness and even mild discomfort after the procedure. In most cases, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen are enough to deal with such distress.
How Long Does Root Canal Treatment Take?
The average root canal procedure takes about 90 minutes, but it depends. Front teeth can be completed in under an hour, whereas molars can take up to two hours due to the additional canals.
Do You Need to Take Time Off From Work or School?
No. You may remain numb in the treated area for up to four hours, but most people can return to work or school directly after the procedure is completed. Note, however, that you are not supposed to eat anything until the numbness is completely gone because you can hurt yourself.
Act Fast to Save Your Tooth
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed above, you should call Scottsdale Dental Excellence as soon as possible to schedule a consultation with Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS. Dr. Clark will perform a comprehensive examination and consult with you on how to proceed. If he determines that root canal therapy is appropriate, he will refer you to one of his most-trusted endodontists. After the treatment, you will return to Dr. Clark for a permanent restoration, such as a crown or porcelain filling.
Dr. Clark is among the premier dentists in the Greater Scottsdale area, and the endodontists he works with are among the best in the region as well. Whether you need root canal treatment, are interested in a smile makeover, or just need a regular checkup, Dr. Clark and his team are here for you. Call us at 480 585 1853 with any questions and to schedule your appointment.